Dr Helen Norrie, Lecturer at the University of Tasmania will present “Revival and survival of regional towns: case studies in Tasmania” at the Australian Regional Development Conference next month in Albury.
Although less than 40% of the population of Australia live in cities of more than one million people, the critical mass of metropolitan centres ensures that the concerns of major cities are central to national policy development. There is a continual emphasis on strategies dealing particular issues that are the consequence of the size and scale of these settlements: housing affordability; transport; sustainable environments; and infrastructure. However, beyond these metropolitan centres, different issues are at stake.
Smaller cities and towns lack the density or intensity of population to provide diverse services and facilities that will retain or attract residents, but they do provide other opportunities that can act as catalysts for future development.
Tasmania is emblematic of a broader situation in regions across Australia; it has very low population within a very large area. With only four cities with more than 10,000 people, and many wider regions reaching barely this figure, there is a need to develop mechanisms to foster the development of infrastructure and industry, to promote environmental and economic stability, and to facilitate regional cooperation and community building.
The Regional Urban Studies Laboratory (RUSL) within the School of Architecture & Design at the University of Tasmania explores differing ways of understanding regional resilience, examining projects that focus on regional complementarities and cooperation, rather than regional competitiveness. Recent collaborative research projects carried out between RUSL and local municipal councils in Meander Valley and Glamorgan-Spring Bay offer alternative ways of understanding the future of these regions, and provide models for regional thinking that can be applied across Australia. These projects demonstrate the importance of regional strategic thinking which crosses municipal boundaries, evaluating the existing and historical conditions of settlements to speculate on new futures that address the revival and survival of small towns and regions.
Dr Helen Norrie is an academic in the School of Architecture & Design at the University of Tasmania, and founder of the Regional Urban Studies Laboratory (RUSL), a collaborative urban design research initiative that explores the opportunities for the future sustainable urban development, particularly in regional centres. RUSL uses academic, postgraduate and undergraduate design research investigations to explore a range of urban issues, focusing on the role of architecture in developing a relationship between urban design, development and planning.
‘Regional Development – where to from here?’ will focus on issues surrounding the ECONOMY, PLANNING, ENVIRONMENT and COMMUNITY development. The aim is to advance economic and social outcomes and discuss the challenges, opportunities and future of Regional Australia.
The conference program is packed with an energizing mix of engaging keynote presenters, large-group panel discussions, breakout sessions, and networking time.
Registration is still open, please visit the conference website for further information www.regionaldevelopment.org.au.